Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Joy and Sorrow of the Unexpected

I'm not going to lie. One of my favorite comments from readers is that I always surprise them. My stories never go where they anticipate and characters sometimes do the complete opposite of what was expected.

Honestly, I am always terrified that my fans can see every plot point coming down the pike and aren't surprised at all by events in the story. I was especially fearful about The Vigilante in the As The World Dies Trilogy, but many fans said they never suspected the real culprit. Others did see it plain as day, but the majority did not. That was an enormous relief.

There are definitely certain events that completely surprised readers in the As The World Dies Trilogy. I get plenty of emails that say, "WTF!" I can usually tell exactly where a reader is from the contents of an email.

"Oh, my God! You killed ________. All bets are off!" write the fans of the story.

I have received that phrase multiple times.

The vampire novels have also garnered emails where people are utterly shocked by some of the twists and turns of the narrative. Perhaps because they have grown so used to the paranormal romance and urban fantasy traditional narratives, my vampires (which I consider old school) freak them out.

For example: The more "human" vampire slowly becomes more like his true nature as the book progresses, not vice versa. But then again, in my mind, I was telling a horror story and didn't really think about any particular set of rules (in paranormal romance for example, there HAS to be a happy ending).

As a writer, the fear is always there that you're just copying someone else subconsciously and that what you've written lacks any originality. Therefore, when a character or an event in a book completely shocks a reader, I give myself a mental high five. When my plot is full of unexpected twists and turns as far as the reader is concerned, I'm thrilled.

Yes, writers have a lot of neurosis. This is just another one.

When people ask me what I write, I say, "Horror." I really don't think about Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy, etc labels when it comes to my writing. I'm just trying to write a really scary story. It may have elements of romance in it, but I don't consider any of my work "romance" of any kind. Since I operate label free in my own head (Tor may have other ideas), I just write what works for me. And then I worry like crazy that what I just wrote is horrible and that the plot is phoned in and...

Well, you get the picture.

But lately, I have been embracing my ability to surprise readers. I'm finally accepting it as a strength in my writing. I recognized this when I sent out my synopsis for the sequel to The Tale of the Vampire Bride to test readers. They were very surprised and a little unsettled by some of the events that transpire in the second book. What they had anticipated happening in the story, did not and though they were thrilled with what did happen, they were also shocked.

As I get ready to move forward on my next project, I hope that I will once again surprise readers with my twisted ideas and turn out a book they will love.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I write like
Bram Stoker

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I plugged in text from The Tale of the Vampire Bride and this is what came up. I can live with it! AWESOME!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm Officially A Tor Author!!! At Last!!!

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that the deal with Tor happened in early March of this year. After negotiations, my agent and Tor came to an agreement on the deal to procure the As The World Dies Trilogy. The Tor versions will be released in 2011 with the first book coming out in the spring.

Even though the deal was "done," the lawyers still needed to go over the contract and work out all the fine details. The contract manager at my literary agency, Foundry Literary + Media, and my lawyer, fought to get the best contract possible for me, while, of course, the lawyers for Tor did the same thing. Finally, I got the word on Tuesday of last week that they had come to a final version of the contract.

To say the very least, I was utterly ecstatic when I got the news.

My agent let me know when she put the copies of the contract in the mail and I waited anxiously for the weekend to arrive. I was pretty sure that the contract copies would arrive on Saturday. I was leaving to run errands with my friend Kody when I dropped by the mailbox. There was a thick, white envelope waiting for me. I pulled it out and did a crazy little dance of glee. I was so damn happy. I sat in my car in the hot Texas sun and texted my mom the news. She was thrilled. This has been a shared dream between us for a very long time. We were both so happy to finally see it come into reality.

My husband had to give me a hard time, of course, pretending to toss out the contract and all that sort of thing. By his grin I could tell he was just as happy as I was to finally have the contract in my hands. If not for him, I know I would have not reached this point. It was his push toward self publishing that put me on the path to Tor.

Sunday I decided it was time to open up the package and sign the contracts. Up until this point, I wanted to just chill out until the big moment. I felt really calm about the whole process. Since the deal was made in March, to me the signing of the contract was just a formality. At least I thought that up to the moment I pulled out my super-duper special pen that my friend had given me just for this occasion. My hand wasn't shaking, but memories of my journey to this point flooded my thoughts as I started to sign my name.

I signed the first two copies while my husband and our friend Kody snapped photos. All at once, I was overwhelmed with emotion and tears started to fall. I was shocked at the sudden swell of emotion that flooded me. My husband hugged me tight and comforted me as I let the enormity of the moment sink in.

Wiping my tears away, I finished signing my contracts and filled out my form for the IRS. Grinning, I stacked up the contracts, put a rubber band around them, and did a victory dance.

I am, ladies and gentleman, officially a Tor author.

It feels awesome!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Whole Lot of Good Stuff

Most of my good news with all things publishing has landed firmly on Mondays. In fact this has really taken my hatred of Mondays down quite a few notches. At some point I began to look forward to Mondays.

That's just scary!

Anyway, I suppose because of the extended Fourth of July weekend Tuesday had to substitute for Monday. Almost as soon as I sat down at my desk the good news started to pour in.

And it was long awaited good news, which is just delicious.

First off, FINALLY the contract is done. It took a very long time due to Macmillan changing its contract at the beginning of the year. My literary agency's contract manager had to acquaint herself with this new contract and go through it with a fine tooth comb. Then my entertainment lawyer needed to chime in on the contract as well as my literary agent before sending all the requested changes back to the lawyers at Macmillan. Then rinse and repeat as their lawyers responded. Rinse, get my point. So after months of back and forth, the contract is ready! By Friday or Saturday I should have it in my little hands ready to sign and fire back off to my agent.

*huge sigh of relief*

I'm not very good at waiting to begin with. My patience meter is on the low end. I'm not sure which was worse: waiting during the submission round to see if the book landed a deal, or waiting for the contract on the done book deal. I actually did quite well waiting for the contract until about two weeks ago. I hate the feeling of being stagnant. If I'm not moving forward, I start to get frustrated. Luckily, I didn't really feel we were at a standstill until that point. I had a day of utter pissiness about the deal, but happily, that is when I heard the news that we were almost done.

Frankly, I am so glad I have a literary agency and entertainment lawyer behind me. There is no way on God's green earth I would have been able to negotiate the contract. It terrifies me to think about writers signing contracts without a solid, knowledgeable team behind them and writers do it all the time.

The next big news to land yesterday was from my new editor at Tor, Melissa Singer. Tor is beginning to go full steam ahead getting ready to promote the hell out of the As The World Dies Trilogy. And, to my utter surprise, I'm going to get a say in the new covers! I'm thrilled to be included in the decision-making process, but honestly, I don't know what to tell them. The covers I wanted are on the self-pubbed versions. I do know for sure I want Katie and Jenni on the cover along with the zombies.

Believe it or not, there is MORE good news.

Tripod Entertainment has now optioned The Tale of the Vampire Bride for a possible TV cable show. I spoke at length with the producer and I'm very excited about some of his ideas about production. I am also very excited about being invited to help write the pilot episode. I am thrilled at the prospect of a TV show based on my favorite novel.

One more little thing, another production company contacted me about one of my short stories and possibly producing it as the second half of a one hour TV film. Nothing is set in stone and it might not work out, but just to be asked was really awesome!

So Tuesday was awesome.

If this keeps up, I may have to shift my hate of Mondays to Thursdays. It is such a tease sitting right before Friday.